Thursday, November 20, 2008
eco this eco that
Crow here. The nice thing about having a pair of wings is not having to get passports, earn money for plane fares or suffer the indignity of having to remove our shoes or prosthetic bits when we pass through Security. Speaking of which, a number of my friends are feeling very insecure nowadays and this is a big part of the reason:
"With the possible exception of the rat, humans are now the most numerous mammal on earth"!
I've been traveling a lot these last few years and I've met some pretty fascinating characters of the human and non-human variety. There are always interesting things to learn and as you know, my friend susan has given me an open invitation to share my findings with whoever drops by to visit.
Of the six billion people in the world maybe a billion lead a decent lifestyle; of this billion maybe half can be considered middle class; of this 250 million maybe 100 million earn over $90k a year. Of this 100 million maybe 10 million are close to a million dollars in real wealth or higher. So 10 million out of 6 billion is pretty much the batting average you have achieved using up some terrific non-renewable resources or a 1.6% batting average.
Humans are torn between self interests and group interests. If you define the ultimate group interests as those of society as a whole, then there is clearly a conflict between the two. The focus of this conflict rests with the pursuit of short-term personal gain, which is opposed by the requirement for long-term group survival. The net balance between these two factors determines the nature of economic (and political) systems.
Discussions about nature and the limits it imposes on human society are not new but what's needed are discussions about how to live in some degree of prosperity and avoid ecological collapse. It would be nice if some space was left for the rest of us who share the planet with you. In an effort to provide you more amusement and ourselves more notice, I've started a program to provide silly shoes and funny hats to all the plainer birds and mammals.
The genius of the current capitalist endless growth system is that it offers everyone the promise of stupendous wealth. It depends upon your understanding of wealth, I suppose, but people will put up with pretty miserable lives in the hopes of better lives. Birds such as I and the other creatures I've known simply don't understand this concept since our needs simply involve access to clean air, clear water and a comfy branch to rest on when the day is done.
Now we're running into resource constraints as well as the current economic disaster. It's become obvious that it's physically impossible for the growth to continue forever and, if endless growth is impossible, then at some point the hope of universal wealth must be set aside. People become afraid. That's there's such resistance to ideas like peak oil and climate change - people have to either ignore physical reality or reject the capitalist growth system. Many people would rather ignore reality than give up hope but there may be some relevant ideas we can all consider.
Keep smiling and we'll figure out something. Now I'm off to bake a nice seed cake for susan's birthday tomorrow. Maybe I'll even give her a slice.